Not the Only Sky by Alyssa Warren – Book Review
Not the Only Sky by Alyssa Warren – Blog Tour
Publisher – Black and White Publishing
Pages – 336
Release Date – 27th April 2017
ISBN-13 – 978-1785300905
Format – ebook, paperback
I received a free copy of this book
‘Wait. Patient. Now. Not long. Good girl. Wait here. Brave girl. Think of it as a vacation.’ ‘Back in a jiffy.’
Big Bend, population 500, South Dakota, 1988. Eight-year-old Tiny Mite lives in a ramshackle farmhouse next to her grandfather’s crashed airplane and the pine tree where she trains as a spy. Goddamn is her favourite word. Taking pictures with her camera made of aluminium foil and a tin can is her new big thing.
She lives with Bee, her apocalypse-obsessed grandmother and Luvie, her hard-drinking great-aunt. And then there’s her mother Velvet, beautiful and desperate, still in love with her high school boyfriend who she left to have a brief fling with Tiny Mite’s absent father.
One night, Tiny Mite hears a cry, but it’s not what she imagines. And nothing will ever be the same. Six years later, Clea won’t let anyone call her Tiny Mite anymore. Luvie has fallen in love with a pastor, and Bee’s health is failing. Velvet is gone, and nobody except Bee, who can’t bring herself to turn her back on her daughter, will even mention her name.
Containing a wonderfully engaging and eccentric cast of characters who live long in the memory, this is the story of mothers and daughters, people bound by blood and geography, moments captured and lifetimes lost, and things never quite turning out as expected.
1988, Big Bend, Dakota, USA. Clea, or Tiny Mite as she is known, is 8 years old. She lives in an all-female household with her mother Velvet, grandmother, Bee, and great-aunt Luvie.
Big Bend is a small town; A town where people are born and die in, and nothing much happens in-between. Tiny though is eccentric, and lives her life in a fantasy bubble. Her grandmother leaves her to it, as long as she is happy. Especially seeing as her mother is not exactly what you would call maternal.
Over the years people age and change, just like Tiny. It’s now 1994, and Tiny Mite is no longer. She is just Clea, the reclusive teenager, living with an ageing grandmother and aunt, and her mother is now nowhere to be seen.
Not the Only Sky, was quite a hard read, harder than I’m used to. It took a lot of concentration to take in and process all that was happening. It was also a compelling and unique read.
The characters were all superbly written, and very realistic. The scenery exquisitely vivid, and did have me visualising being stood in the middle of what seemed like a dusty old town, where everyone knew everyone else’s business.
I found Tiny Mite/Clea, in her younger years, interesting and a joy to read about. In her older, teenage years, she had lost that naivety, and that fun bubble she used to live in, and wasn’t quite so interesting anymore.
Over the course of the ten years that the book is set, you witness how relationships change, how people change, and how memories are made, even those you would rather forget.
The book did take some perseverance, and was a slow read. It was also a tale of two halves. The first part was touching, and I was eager to read it, even if it was slowly. The second half had me fighting to keep reading, as my concentration started to waver.
Would I want to read it again? Doubtful. Am I glad that I read it? Yes. Will the story and the characters stay with me? Most definitely.
Book reviewed by Stacey
I grew up in South Dakota, and after meeting my Ecuadorian husband while studying English in California, lived in Ecuador, Australia, France and UK in less than ten years, so writing was a way to feel continuity.
For the past 12 years we have lived in East London and now have three boys. I am also a printmaker and budding pinhole photographer.